SHOPPERS will star in a new television series about Welsh learners due to hit the screen at the end of April.
TV presenter Nia Parry spent a couple of hours in the busy Eagles Meadow shopping centre in Wrexham shooting scenes for S4C’s popular Sunday morning show Milltir² – in English “Square Mile” – in which Nia tours Wales to put the spotlight on interesting people and places.
At Eagles Meadow she met up with a couple of Welsh speakers and said she was impressed by the area’s sense of commitment to its native language.
According to series producer Ffion Jones from production company Boom Cymru, coming to Wrexham’s prestige shopping centre was a must for the filming schedule.
She said: “The second series of Milltir², which occupies an hour-long slot within the two-hour Welsh learners’ programme Dal Ati running from 10.30am-12.30pm on Sundays, is due to start on March 1, St David’s Day, and we’re currently travelling to interesting locations around Wales filming scenes for it.
“We’ve already been to places like Swansea, St David’s in Pembrokeshire and Bala, so we definitely had to come to Wrexham, which is one of the main towns in North Wales.
“Filming scenes at Eagles Meadow was also a must as it is such a busy and interesting shopping area.
“The title of the programme, Dal Ati, in English means `don’t give up, keep going’ and this is the sort of message we aim to get across to Welsh learners with it.
“At first, learning the language can seem like hard going because we all lead such busy lives these days but our programme encourages people to stick with it.”
Nia Parry, who was born on Anglesey and brought up in Rhos on Sea, is a former languages teacher who moved into TV in 2000.
She said she was delighted when the first two people she spoke to in Wrexham when she arrived for filming replied to her in Welsh.
“On the way in to Eagles Meadow I stopped to ask a guy directions and automatically spoke to him in Welsh. It was great to hear him answer me in Welsh and quite lucky too because I understand that only 13 per cent of people in the Wrexham area are actually Welsh speakers, so it’s great to see the commitment here to the language,” she said.
Later in the morning as Nia’s crew shot more footage in the middle of Eagles Meadow they met up with another Welsh speaker, 30-year-old Elen Williams, who lives in Rhosllanerchrugog and works as a maths teacher at the bilingual Ysgol Brynhyfryd in Ruthin.
She said: “I was just out shopping with my 21-month-old son, Iestyn, and was very happy to come across the crew filming for a Welsh learners TV programme because more people should be aware that you can learn the language.
“I think there are quite a few who speak the language in Rhos where I live but in Wrexham generally it would be nice to see more people speaking it.”
After filming a short sequence with Elen, Nia said: “It was marvellous to meet her and have to chance to interview her on camera.
“She is obviously very proud of her Welsh heritage and spoke of how important it had been for her to attend Ysgol Morgan Llwyd, the Welsh medium high school in Wrexham.
“Elen also said in the interview that she is already thinking about sending her son Iestyn to a Welsh medium school in the area.”
Nia added: “It’s been a great morning filming in Eagles Meadow and meeting people like Elen.
“The second series of Milltir² started on S4C on St David’s Day, Sunday March 1. There are eight programmes and the one featuring Eagles Meadow will be shown last on Sunday April 26.
“To support the series there’s a website which is full of Welsh vocabulary, exercises and ideas for discussion topics. There’s also an app you can download connected to the programme.”
Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley was delighted to welcome Nia and the film crew to the shopping centre.
He said: “The Welsh language is an important part of the heritage of the Wrexham area and programmes like Milltir² are helping to ensure it remains an important part of the town’s future.”
The programme’s website is at www.s4c.co.uk/dalati. The programme is also on Twitter at @dalati